Eckes Races to Victory in Weather Guard Truck Race at Bristol Motor Speedway

Christian Eckes held off Bristol-dominator Kyle Busch in the final 25 laps on Saturday night to win the 250-lap WEATHER GUARD Truck Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Eckes led a race-best 144 laps at the controls of his No. 19 Chevy and ultimately finished .141-of-a-second in front of his former team owner Busch, a 22-time Bristol winner, including five previous Craftsman Truck Series victories.

The only other Cup Series regular in the field, former Truck champ Zane Smith, finished third in his No. 91 Chevy. Busch and Smith will both compete in Sunday’s Food City 500 NASCAR Cup Series race (3:30 p.m., FOX, PRN Radio).

The win was the sixth of his career and first ever at Bristol and it was super sweet for Eckes for a variety of reasons.

“There’s a lot behind this win,” Eckes said. “The fans here are crazy, I love it. We got off to a tough start this season and missing out on the championship last year after we got caught up in a wreck here with four laps to go, this is a big redemption race for us, and one we had circled most on the calendar.”

Eckes, 23, started from the pole and led for most of the race. Busch led 105 laps but as the race clicked off the closing laps down the stretch, Busch ultimately needed some track position to get the job done.

Battling like they were longtime rivals, Busch and Eckes made contact while neck and neck for the lead on lap 154. Busch’s No. 7 truck got sideways and Eckes’ machine took some minor damage to the front right in the incident but both rolled on and stayed out front.

“We definitely race each other like there’s some kind of history,” Eckes said. “Hopefully there’s no hard feelings. I’ve never beat him before and I enjoy racing against him.”

Eckes said to hold off Kyle here at The Last Great Colosseum is especially gratifying.

“It’s always huge to win against Kyle and especially at Bristol this is his home, to beat him here is pretty awesome,” Eckes said. “He had a hell of a save there when we were battling, it was just hard racing. I had a lot of fun. I was a little concerned about the right front damage and I slid pretty hard and had to gather it up. After that I just had to cool the tires down and it was OK.”

Busch tried to reel in Eckes in the final 20 laps but he ran out of time.

“The crazy part of it is we fought loose and then we put on the newer tires and it was instantly tight,” Busch said. “I don’t think we were as tight as the 19 at the end. I let him go early in that run to just go burn his stuff off and track position at the end, just aero effects… Didn’t have enough rubber on the road to outduel him. Thanks to everyone on this team for letting me come out here. It’s definitely frustrating not running as good as I’m accustomed to, but we’ve got some work to do.”

Eckes said he was going to give the coveted BMS Gladiator Sword to his crew chief, Charles Denike. He said he will keep the trophy though.

“The trophies are cool, but the wins mean the most to me,” Eckes said. “As many points as we can stockpile is our number one goal right now.”

Matt Crafton, Tyler Ankrum, Corey Heim, Taylor Gray, rising star Rajah Caruth, Grant Enfinger and Layne Riggs completed the top 10 finishers.